#Terps100: This Day in History: January 27, 1979

1.27.79 - terps beat #1 notre dameThe Maryland men’s basketball team has enjoyed a lot of big wins in their 100 seasons on the hardwood, but perhaps none bigger than their 67-66 victory over Notre Dame on January 27, 1979, in front of a sell-out crowd in Cole. The Fighting Irish came to campus ranked No. 1 in the country and riding a seven-game winning streak, while Maryland was unranked and looking for an upset.

The Terps led by as many as 12 during the game, but fell apart in the last 7.5 minutes of the contest, needing some late heroics from stars Larry Gibson and Buck Williams to complement Ernie Graham’s game-high 28 points and eke out the victory. Gibson pulled the Terps to within two, 66-64, sinking two free throws at the 1:26 minute mark. The Irish then passed the ball around until 15 seconds remained (in the days before the institution of the shot clock), and Reggie Jackson fouled Notre Dame’s Stan Wilcox. Wilcox missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Maryland’s Buck Williams grabbed the rebound, one of his 15 on the day. The Terps called time-out with 11 seconds left, then again with 5 seconds remaining to set up the final play.

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Coach Lefty Driesell called for the same set-up that had nearly beaten the No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels only a week earlier. Jackson passed the ball to guard Greg Manning who gave up an open shot to drive to the hoop. Just as he was about to go out of bounds, he flipped the ball back to Larry Gibson who sank a layup and was fouled by the Irish’s Bruce Flowers, who later seemed unconvinced that he had indeed committed the infraction. “If the referee [said] I did, then I guess I did,” he told the Washington Post after game.

Notre Dame called two time-outs in an attempt to ice Gibson, whose free throw hit nothing but net with one second left on the clock.

The Irish called another time-out to set up a last-gasp, half-court shot that fell short, and the celebration was on! Terrapin fans, many of them waving Maryland flags, mobbed the court, and Driesell was mobbed by a huge crowd on the floor of Cole while being interviewed on national television.

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After the game, Gibson told The Diamondback, “That was definitely one of the biggest shots of my life…I was just trying to concentrate on the rim. But I was thinking about beating the No. 1 team in the country.”

You can re-live this No. 1 upset by watching the four reels of footage from the game in the UMD Archives’ collections, which have been digitized as part of our campaign to Help Preserve Maryland Basketball History:

If you enjoyed viewing this landmark Terps’ victory, please visit go.umd.edu/preservembb and make a gift to support our on-going work to digitize additional footage from 1953 to 2014.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts the University Archives will be featuring as part of the celebration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, 2018-2019, with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.

Follow Terrapin Tales throughout the season for additional features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history. Next in line is March 8, the 60th anniversary of the Terps’ first-ever ACC Tournament championship.

 

 

 

 

 

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#Terps100: Surprise Find: George Simler

As we assembled the all-time roster of University of Maryland men’s basketball players over the summer, we came up with some unlikely finds, some gentlemen who were better known for their achievements later in life than they were for the exploits on the hardwood.

We’ve already told you the stories of Charlie “King Kong” Keller, the only Terp to ever play in baseball’s All Star Game and World Series, and author Munro Leaf, most famous for his beloved work The Story of Ferdinand.

But did you know that we had a future lieutenant general playing for the Terps under head coach H. Burton Shipley in the 1940-1941 season?

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George Simler, born in 1921 in Johnstown, PA, entered the University of Maryland in fall 1940 and played freshman football and basketball and ran track for the Terps, but left in June 1941 when he was called to active duty in the Navy.

Two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Diamondback  published a letter he sent to the university community, showing his love for Maryland and how much he missed being on campus:

Nine days later, he enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on December 18, 1941, and  he received his pilot wings on August 5, 1942.

Simler served two combat tours as a pilot in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. He was shot down in July 1944 but successfully evaded capture and returned to the Allied lines two months later. Following the war, he returned to the university serve as a professor of aerospace science and tactics and to complete his education. As he finished out his student days, he rejoined the football team, participating in the Terps’ first-ever post-season bowl game, the Gator Bowl, versus Georgia on January 1, 1948. Five months later, he received his degree in Military Science and was awarded the Sylvester Watch, given to the man who typified the best in Maryland Athletics.

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Terrapin football team, 1947. Simler (#40) is third from right in the second row.

Following graduation, he took on a variety of assignments for the Air Force in the U.S. and overseas, including command of various fighter groups and director of operations of the Seventh Air Force and the Headquarters of the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, even flying several combat missions during that conflict. He also served as vice commander of the United States Air Forces in Europe.

Throughout his 30-year career in the Air Force, General Simler received numerous awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and the Vietnam Air Gallantry Cross. You can find the text for many of his award citations here.

He was killed in a jet crash at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas on September 9, 1972, shortly before he was to have  been  promoted to  full general and assigned to head the Military Airlift Command.

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Simler played in 14 games as a freshman under head coach H. Burton Shipley, scoring 29 points. While perhaps you wouldn’t characterize as a star on the hardwood, he did make an impact as a freshman baller and is certainly a Terp of whom we can be very proud.

 

 

 

 

#Terps 100: This Day In History: January 9, 1911

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1910-1911 MAC basketball team. Captain H. Burton Shipley in the center of the first row.

Varsity competition for the Maryland Agricultural College cadets (the forerunners of today’s Terrapins) began on a chilly January evening in 1911. A squad of seven players traveled south from New York University to play a series of games against colleges in the Washington, DC, area, and the Aggies were their chosen opponent on January 9.

Unfortunately we have not been able to locate many details about this game, but we do know that the Violets’ (named for the color of their uniforms) thrashed the MAC cadets 29-7. Evidently the “dash” with which the Aggies played, according to a mention in the February 1, 1911, Triangle, was not enough to overcome the strength of the defending intercollegiate champions from NYU.

The Aggies’ mainstays that season were Paul Goeltz and Herbert White at forward, Augustus Rupert at center, and guards H. Burton Shipley, Arthur (Doc) Woodward, and Paul Binder. Woodward also served as the team’s manager, and Shipley as the captain.

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Shipley’s entry in the 1914 Reveille yearbook

Shipley has a particularly interesting connection to his alma mater. After his graduation from the two-year degree program in 1914, he took some coaching courses at the University of Illinois, then began his coaching career at the Perkiomen, Pennsylvania, Prep School, leading the football, basketball, and baseball teams. Positions at the helm of all three sports followed at Marshall College and the University of Delaware. Shipley also spent a summer as the manager of the Martinsburg, West Virginia, baseball team in the Blue Ridge League before returning to the University of Maryland as the baseball and basketball coach. He led the Terps on the hardwood from 1923 to 1947, winning the Southern Conference championship in 1931 and making the conference finals in 1939. “Ship” also coached Maryland’s first All-American, Louis “Bosey” Berger.

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1931 Southern Conference champions

 

shipley as baseball coachHe is better known, perhaps, for his leadership of the baseball team. Shipley took the helm in 1924 as he was finishing up his first season with the basketball team, and led the squad until 1960. The ball field was named for him in 1956 and today is part of Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium.

 

 

These six young men established a program which has risen to national prominence, including an NCAA championship in 2002.

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts the University Archives will be featuring as part of the commemoration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, 2018-2019, with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.

Follow Terrapin Tales throughout the season for additional features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history. Next in line is January 27, when we commemorate the Terps’ historic 1979 win against the #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

 

 

 

Terps 100: This Day In History: December 30, 2014

‘I don’t know how we did it:’ No. 12 Terps get past cold shooting with free throws, rebounds in Big Ten debut; College basketball Maryland men 68, Michigan State 66, 2OT

The Big Ten opener for Maryland men’s basketball, December 30, 2014, against Michigan State, was truly a thriller and one of the most memorable victories in the team’s 100 seasons.

The move from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) to the B1G had been a controversial one, so Maryland came into East Lansing to face the Spartans with something to prove. The Terps were enjoying their highest national ranking in 10 years and were ready for the test against one of the conference’s toughest teams.

The first half was a low-scoring affair. Maryland led 17-14 at the break, after the teams combined to shoot only 27 per cent from the field. Defense was the name of the game, and Coach Turgeon said afterwards, “Nobody has guarded us as well as they’ve guarded us.”

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Dez Wells hits for two!

The lead see-sawed back and forth in the second half, and it took a three-pointer by Dez Wells, playing in his second game back after suffering a fractured wrist, to tie the score with three seconds left in regulation.

In the first overtime, Michigan State was ahead 55-51 with less than a minute remaining. Turgeon was slapped with a technical foul, frustrated by the lack of a foul call on a drive by freshman Melo Trimble, and it looked like the Terps might collapse. Jon Graham followed with a lay-up, and Wells added two free throws to extend the game again.

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Freshman Melo Trimble drives for two of his 17 points against Michigan State.

Maryland took control in the second overtime, wearing down the Spartans to secure a 68-66 win. Despite some serious shooting woes and 21 turnovers, they finished with some impressive stats, out rebounding Michigan State 52-36 and hitting 26 of 32 free throws, all of those after halftime.

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Coach Turgeon celebrates the big win.

It’s always tough to win on the road, especially against a perennial powerhouse, but the Terps showed great grit and determination in their first conference victory, a win that Coach Turgeon, all members of the 2014-2015 squad, and Maryland fans everywhere will long remember.

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Post-game celebration in the locker-room.

This is the third in a series of blog posts the University Archives will be featuring as part of the celebration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, 2018-2019, with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.

Follow Terrapin Tales throughout the season for additional features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history. Next in line is January 9, when we mark the anniversary of Maryland’s first-ever varsity competition.

 

 

 

 

 

#Terps100: Surprise Find: Munro Leaf

As we assembled the all-time roster of University of Maryland men’s basketball players over the summer, we came up with some unlikely finds, some gentlemen who were better known for their achievements later in life than they were for the exploits on the hardwood.

We’ve already told you the story of Charlie “King Kong” Keller, the only Terp to ever play in baseball’s All Star Game and World Series, who just happened to  be a star shooter for Maryland for four seasons, 1933-1937.

Ferdinand the Bull cover

We were surprised to find another famous name on an early roster—Munro Leaf! Leaf, better known as the author of the delightful children’s book, The Story of Ferdinand, took to the hardwood for the freshmen basketballers in the 1924 season.

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You can learn more about Leaf’s famous work here.

His court career did not last long, however, and didn’t even rate a mention in the list of his activities included with his senior photo in the 1927 Reveille yearbook.

munro leaf senior photo

 

The roster we compiled was recently used by artist Daniel Duffy to create one of his pieces of “word art,” which was distributed to fans at the November 28 ACC/Big Ten Challenge game vs. the University of Virginia Cavaliers.

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See if you can find Munro Leaf or Charlie Keller among the 863 names of former players, coaches, and basketball venues that Duffy incorporated into his work!

We found another surprise or two on the roster, so check back on Terrapin Tales to see who we discovered!

Terps 100: This Day In History: December 2, 1955

The scene in the newly completed Student Activities Building was a festive one the night of December 2, 1955. University officials, dignitaries from around the state, including Governor Theodore R. McKeldin, and representatives from other Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) schools gathered to dedicate the new structure and celebrate the opening of the second largest arena on the East Coast, dwarfed at the time only by Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The ceremonies, chaired by J. Freeman Pyle, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, featured addresses by Governor McKeldin and Charles Wickard, president of the Student Government Association. Judge William P. Cole, Jr., Class of 1910 and chair of the Board of Regents, presented the building to the university, and President Wilson H. Elkins officially accepted the structure.

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(left to right) Victor Frenkil, chairman of Baltimore Contractors, Jim Tatum, UMD athletic director, Judge William P. Cole, chair of the Board of Regents, and President Wilson Elkins at the dedication of the Student Activities Building

Following all the speeches and photo-ops, the Terps took to the court against the Virginia Cavaliers.  Bob Kessler scored the first points in the new arena, hitting two free throws in the opening moments, but Virginia answered back quickly, with two free throws of their own from Bob McCarty and a basket by Bob Hardy. The Terps hit a lay-up and capitalized on an offensive rebound to take the lead at 6-4. At halftime, they were in front of the Cavaliers by 4, at 34-30, and they continued to pull away in the second half, thanks to some hot shooting from Kessler and teammate Bob O’Brien.

Ultimately Maryland prevailed in a low-scoring affair, 67-55, the ACC opener for both teams. Kessler finished with 23 points, and O’Brien 15, as the high scorers for the Terps.

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Who could have predicted at the time that the Terps would also end their playing days in Cole with a game against those same Virginia Cavaliers, winning that final contest on March 3, 2002, 112-92.

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Today the historic field house, named in December 1956 for Judge William P. Cole, Jr., has been re-purposed as the Terrapin Performance Center, with a dazzling indoor practice facility; the Center for Sports Medicine, Health, and Human Performance; and the future home of the Academy of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

This is the second in a series of blog posts the University Archives will be featuring as part of the commemoration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, 2018-2019, with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.

Follow Terrapin Tales throughout the season for additional features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history. Next in line is December 30, when we mark Maryland’s first win in the Big Ten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “War of Pens” With One of UMD’s Most Notorious Alumnae

Before writing the S.C.U.M Manifesto and attempting to assassinate Andy Warhol, Valerie Solanas was a student-journalist for the Diamondback from 1956 through 1957.

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Valerie Solanas, 1958 Yearbook

In contrast to her later reputation as a radical feminist, Solanas wrote some fairly generic articles for the paper. In her first article from February 2, 1956, Solanas reported on a female student who donated her eighth pint of blood. The next time she popped up was as a feature reporter on a May 16, 1956, article defending the university’s decision to charge seniors a $10 diploma fee.

The fall semester of 1957 saw the end to her rather bland assignments. On November 19, 1957, the Diamondback editorial staff praised a speech given by Max Shulman at the Associated Collegiate Press Convention. Described as a humorist and national college newspaper columnist, whose column “On Campus with Max Shulman” appeared regularly in the Diamondback, Shulman’s speech declared that in order to “reinvigorate the youth,” the matriarchy must be destroyed. He claimed that when America was run by “restless men,” the country was the light of the world. Shulman suggested that one way to begin the process of reversing the matriarchy was to take the girl with whom you have been going steady since you were 13 and “punch her in the nose” because it will “leave no confusion as to who’s boss.”

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Title card for Max Shulman’s column, which appeared regularly in the Diamondback.

Solanas responded with a letter to the editor on November 22, 1957, stating that Shulman was the “nadir of trivia” and that his statements were “pure bigoted drivel.” She went on to defend stay-at-home mothers by outlining all of the work they did while their husbands were at work and noting that two-thirds of married women juggle work and family duties. She then turned her attention to the Diamondback editors by questioning whether or not it was appropriate for this sort of content to be in the editorial section of the paper. Her fiery response was co-signed by ten other female students on campus.

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On November 26th, Harry Walsh, writing on behalf of himself and the residents of North Baltimore Hall, responded to Solanas by claiming that “these females” purposefully misinterpreted Shulman’s speech and he doubted that Shulman was serious about revolting against the matriarchy since Walsh doubts it even exists. While he does not believe that men have lost masculinity and that he should he punch his girlfriend in the nose, he and his dormmates believe that Solanas’ response only created more humor around the whole situation.

Over the next two months, anonymous and named men from the UMD campus and College Park community chimed in to defend Shulman’s comments, with the main war waging between Walsh and Solanas. One anonymous writer from December 11th wrote that women are meant to stay home and that “women think they’re too good to do housework and try to think.” Another man, W.E. Parr, wrote on December 12th that Solanas is “Maryland’s own little suffragette.” He stated that when UMD men come across a “certain type of distraught female,” the best thing to do is humor them.

Solanas wrote two significant responses on December 17th and December 18th. In the first, entitled “Verbal Warpath,” she tells men to “maintain your manly composure” and that their replies are “unbecoming to men of your intellectual stature.”  After taking a few more shots at the multiple men writing in and insulting her, she signed off with “‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ and my pen is dipped in blood!” The next day, she responded directly to Parr, arguing that men are actually the ones who are wasting away without the women because they are desperately seeking companionship as they lurk around dances and the female dorms.

One female student did come to the defense of Solanas on December 10th when Mary Louis Sparks wrote that Solanas was not trying to wage war, but clarify certain concepts that are held by a large number of men and that those concepts are being held in error. None of the women who signed off on Solanas’ first letter wrote in to defend her, and it is unclear if women wrote in and were not included or if Sparks was actually the only student to defend her.

By January 9, 1958, the editor of the Diamondback had stepped in to put an end to what had become known as the “War of Pens,” as it was unlikely that Shulman or his followers would be converted. He also noted that both sides stated their cases rather poorly due to the sheer number of insults and sarcastic responses to one another. The editor then declared that January 17th would be the last issue that would address the debate.

Solanas was the only person to directly respond to the call for final thoughts. She opted to write a poem rather than a traditional letter:

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January 17, 1958, poem on the War of Pens

There were at least 15 exchanges over the course of three months with articles separate from the “Backtalk” column that addressed the debate. Nearly every “Letter to the Editor” section had someone chiming in on the debate. After the war of pens had ended, Solanas did not appear in the Diamondback as a writer again, while Max Shulman’s column “On Campus,” that was sent out to multiple college newspapers, continued to be published. On what could be considered a particularly conservative campus in the 1950s, the Diamondback editorial staff said that War of Pens had permeated every part of campus life. Though it cannot be said that it caused any major changes, this look into gender relations on campus is certainly enlightening, especially since it was led by Valerie Solanas.

Flip through the gallery below to see the entire “War of Pens”!

To see more archived issues of the Diamondback, visit https://www.lib.umd.edu/univarchives/student-newspapers

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Take a Walk Down Route 1

Cutting along the eastern edge of UMD’s campus, Route 1 is a familiar site and busy thoroughfare for students. Students roaming the sidewalks of Route 1 have immediate access to food, shopping, and housing. But that’s not all the highway has been used for over the years. Check out these changes to Route 1!

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Farmers walk oxen down Route 1 near the Rossborough Inn, 1900.

This rural scene shows what Route 1 and College Park were like before the road became a bustling, paved main street. With the rise in popularity of the automobile, traffic on the road increased, and the state mandated that the road be paved in 1904. Officially designated “State Route No. 1,” the College Park segment of the road wasn’t paved until 1910.

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Dairy cows crossing Route 1, 1933.

Widened and added to the official US highway system in 1926, Route 1 connects the country from Maine to Florida. But even as the road expanded, the sections around College Park remained rural. Cows and other livestock were frequently seen crossing the highway in the 1930s!

The growth of the University of Maryland drastically and rapidly changed the character of Route 1 in College Park. As the university expanded, businesses congregated along its waysides to cater to students. Stoplights were added, and the road was widened again in the 1940s to accommodate increased traffic. Below you can see the lit signs of businesses and the large number of cars parked along Route 1 in College Park after World War II.

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Route 1 at night, 1949.

In the 1970s, Route 1 became a site of protest. In 1970, UMD students blocked this busy thoroughfare during protests against the escalation of Vietnam War into Laos and Cambodia. Similar scenes occurred again in 1971 and 1972. The National Guard was called to campus three times in three years.

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Student protesters congregate on Route 1, 1970.

Today UMD students continue to have a deep appreciation for Route 1. In 2010, an alum named her online clothing company Route 1 Apparel. The company sells Maryland state pride and Maryland-themed clothing. Additionally, many of students’ favorite hangout spots are in Route 1’s many restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.

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Route 1 at night, 2018. Photo credit: Washington Post

More changes are on the way for US highway 1. The street will intersect with WMATA’s new Purple Line that is scheduled to open in 2022, and new businesses continue to spring up along the street.

From cows to light rail transit, Route 1 has seen it all!

 

 

 

UMD Then and Now: The Horticulture Department

What was the University of Maryland like in 1928? In 1968? How does it compare to 2018? Then and Now explores the evolution of the University of Maryland over the years. This week’s spotlight: the Horticulture Department!

The Horticulture Department, better known today as the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture, has been a part of the curriculum at the University of Maryland since the very beginning. Horticulture has been a part of university curriculum since the Maryland Agricultural College opened to students in 1859. Early on, Horticulture was not its own separate department; rather it was coursework in the larger field of agriculture. Students focused on practical experience and fieldwork conducted with the Agricultural Experiment Station. Through the years, focus shifted to academic research and lab work, although practical knowledge and job experience are still key. 

Horticulture 1.pngStudents plant lilies in Horticulture class, 1900

By 1928, Horticulture was its own distinct department with four tracks for specialization: Pomology (Fruits), Olericulture (Vegetables), Floriculture (Flowers), and Landscape Gardening. Professors in the department also worked for the Agricultural Experiment Station, an agricultural research facility affiliated with the University.

Horticulture 2.pngAll dressed up and no place to go…except class! Female students in Horticulture class, 1925.

Horticulture 3.pngStudents in the Horticulture Department in 1928 took a variety of classes including  “Public Speaking,” “Greenhouse Construction,” and “Vegetable Forcing.”

By 1968, the course of study expanded to include Ornamental Horticulture and Processing of Horticultural Crops. The Department also shifted its focus towards industry, preparing students to enter the field as fertilizer manufacturers and equipment managers. 

Horticulture 4.pngCurriculum in 1968 bears strong similarities to the coursework of 1928. However, focus has shifted to lab work and technology. Courses like “Flower Production Laboratory” and “Technology of Ornamentals” indicate the growing role of technology in science following World War II.

Today the Horticulture Department is called the Department of Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture. Specializations are available in Plant Biology, Landscape Management, Turf and Golf Course Management, or Urban Forestry. The department supports both undergraduate and graduate studies, and the four specializations blend elements of science, design, technology, and fieldwork. 

Horticulture 5.pngCurrent courses in the Department of Plant Sciences show more science courses and laboratory work.

The Horticulture Department is a long-standing element of the curriculum at University of Maryland. Since the creation of the Maryland Agriculture College in 1856, the department has changed dramatically. Coursework has shifted, and lab attire has changed. You won’t see fur coats in the lab today! However, the focus on preparing students to make meaningful contributions beyond the classroom has remained constant. Whether they graduated in 1928 or 2018, Horticulture students from UMD are prepared to make an impact in the field.

To see more about changes to academic department through the years, including course catalogs from 1859 to 2018, visit https://www.lib.umd.edu/univarchives/catalogs.

 

“Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Bomb?”

In the early 1960s, the threat of nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union was on everyone’s mind. In the fall of 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world closer to nuclear warfare than ever before. As the Cold War escalated,, and the world seemed to hover on the brink of disaster, many ordinary citizens began to prepare for the worst. In 1961, the federal government started the Community Fallout Shelter Program to create spaces to shelter citizens from nuclear fallout. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy wrote a letter to Time Magazine advising private citizens to prepare for the worst, causing many citizens to construct their own private backyard bunkers. The University of Maryland, like other colleges nationwide, participated in the fallout shelter mania of the early 1960s. The UMD Civil Defense program prepared for the worst by constructing and stocking fallout shelters across campus. Where were these safety havens from nuclear doom at UMD, and whatever happened to these spaces representing life on the brink of nuclear war?

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Shelter 1

In 1961, UMD began the process of constructing 34 fallout shelters on campus to accommodate more than 7,000 people. Shelters were located in the basements and hallways of academic buildings and residence halls. By 1971, there were 43 shelters on campus. The largest shelter, located in the Physics Building, could accommodate 2,472 people while the smallest fallout shelter, in Montgomery Hall, had space for only 50 people. Each shelter stocked enough rations to supply each resident with 8 survival biscuits for breakfast and lunch, 10 for dinner, and 4 cups of water per day. Not the most lavish of meals, but enough to sustain 23,000 people for 2 weeks!

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Students open a tin of survival biscuits during a 1966 fallout center training.

 

 

 

The University’s Residence Hall Council even sponsored a course in fallout center management for interested students. The course involved simulations of conditions and situations that could arise in a fallout shelter during a nuclear emergency. Students could volunteer to participate in the exercise, spending 24 hours overnight in a fallout shelter in Denton Dining Hall. Students ate survival foods and practiced scenarios like decontaminating outsiders who could infect shelter inhabitants with radiation. Female students were even excused from the strict rules of nightly curfews to experience fallout shelter life. The course proved popular and occurred several times and in several different locations across campus in 1966 and 1967. 

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Students sleep during a fallout center management course, 1966.

The University of Maryland also participated in community efforts to prepare for a nuclear attack. In 1961, the Prince George’s County Office of Civil Defense published a call for applicants in The Diamondback. Married college students with families were asked to participate in an experiment in living one week in an underground fallout shelter at Prince George’s Plaza. The Diamondback wrote:

The purpose of the test is to observe the reactions of a typical American family to the confined living imposed by the bomb shelter. The bomb shelter, yet to be built, will be the underground cellar-like type recommended by the Office of Civil Defense Mobilization. Its occupants will live on canned foods. They will communicate with the outside during periodic broadcasts made by radio station WWDC.

We were unable to find evidence in the Archives if the experiment actually happened or if any UMD students participated in the study. However, this call for participants shows the widespread uneasiness of the residents of Prince George’s County, including UMD students, during the Cold War.

The University of Maryland also provided community education about nuclear warfare and emergency preparedness. In February 1963, McKeldin Library featured an exhibit on how to survive atomic warfare, complete with a model basement fallout shelter and recorded messages providing information about survival shelters. The University of Maryland was clearly a part of a larger local community concerned about the impact of nuclear war.

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A model basement fallout shelter on display in McKeldin Library, 1963.

In the mid-1970s, as the nature of the Cold War changed, fallout shelters began to fade from public interest. Funding to replace shelter supplies stopped, food supplies rotted, and vandals ransacked shelter sanitation kits. In 1976, the University gained permission from the Prince George’s County Civil Defense and Emergency Preparedness Office to dismantle the shelters, a process that took place throughout the remainder of the 1970s. As the Cold War continued into the 1990s, nuclear emergency plans shifted to focus on evacuation of students instead of efforts to seek shelter on campus.

Today, there is little evidence of the tension and anxiety experienced by students, staff, and administration as they faced the prospect of nuclear war. The idea of surviving a nuclear blast in a flimsy basement shelter equipped with survival biscuits seems naive and silly to us today. However, after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, nuclear war seemed inevitable, and a sense of helplessness consumed many American. These citizens, UMD community members among them, clung to the small amount of hope available to them, using fallout shelters to soothe fears of nuclear obliteration.

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